Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” is one of the most recognizable songs in the history of rock. And yet the 1986 hit originally sounded very different.

During a conversation with UCR’s Matt Wardlaw, Jon Bon Jovi explained why he didn’t think much of the song initially.

“When we were writing it, we did not have the baseline,” the frontman noted. “We were picking on one note on the guitar, so it almost sounded like 'London Calling.'”

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While most bands would be happy to have a tune reminiscent of the Clash’s classic track, Bon Jovi didn’t think the song fit his band. “It was one note,” the rocker declared, explaining that it wasn’t until the now-famous bass part was constructed that he saw “Livin’ on a Prayer’’s potential.

“You see that baseline wasn't developed until we went back on that date to the band and started saying, ‘We need some kind of bopping baseline. Think Motown. This is what we need to do in pre-production.' So we had all the lyrics, we had all the chord structure, we had everything about the melody, but we did not have that baseline until we got into the studio. Well, into the rehearsal.”

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Released as the second single from 1986’s Slippery When Wet, “Livin’ on a Prayer” became a chart-topping hit. Decades later, it’s regarded as a classic and ranks among Bon Jovi’s most beloved tunes. It’s importance in the band’s history is not lost on the frontman, who concedes he never should have doubted the song.

“I love that I'm the guy that got it wrong,” Bon Jovi admitted.

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Gallery Credit: Anthony Kuzminski

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